Evaluating the Role of the Internet and Mainstream News Journalism in the Development of the Northern Ireland Peace Process.

Paddy Hoey

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    This chapter evaluates the impact of the Internet and mainstream news media and journalism on the development of Northern Ireland’s Peace Process which began in the early 1990s and initially culminated in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which brought about the cessation of the period of sectarian violence known as the Troubles. Curtis (1992) and Miller and McLaughlin (1994) provided the most compelling critiques of the centrality of news media and journalism to public understandings of both the 30-year civil conflict of the Troubles and the development of peace. Sparre (2001), Dixon (2002), and Spencer (2006) noted that the Peace Process was also both choreographed and performed in the news media sphere. The Peace Process, is also contemporaneous with the development of the mass Internet, and the most recent stage of the process since the mid-2000s is directly concurrent to the emergence of Web 2.0. There have been noted attempts from the blogosphere and the mainstream media to foster shared-space online in Northern Ireland. However, in keeping with the belief that Internet users are likely to congregate in online spaces that reflected their own political and social backgrounds (Sunstein, 2009), members of religiously divided communities in Northern Ireland have largely congregated in sectarianized spaces that have triumphed over the utopian belief in technology as a force for social transformation. This chapter questions the extent to which the promise of the digital commons as a force for bringing people together was realised and will do so by setting the contemporary history of Northern Ireland within the wider context of the development of news and journalism in age of the Internet and the decline of mass print circulations. New technology platforms have extended the opportunity and potential for journalism to address the Peace Process and perhaps offer a dialogical space in which to critique its direction. However, the sectarian fissures in Northern Irish life have proved to be more deeply situated and in the period under examination, neither traditional news outlets nor new social media technologies have universally brought people together from ethno-religiously divided groups.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationDigital Technology and Journalism
    Subtitle of host publicationAn International Comparative Perspective
    EditorsPaddy Hoey, Tong Jingrong, Lo Shih-Hung
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    Number of pages23
    ISBN (Electronic)9783319550268
    ISBN (Print)978-3-319-55025-1, 978-3-319-85547-9
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2017


    • Northern Ireland
    • Peace Process
    • journalism
    • citizen media
    • social media


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